/Tag: democracy

How Congress Lost the Diaspora


Hindustan Times

In April this year I was in Houston, which has a large Indian community. I had dinner with a group of NRIs, and we spoke about the 16th General Elections. I was told a hundred college students and professionals from Houston had gone to India to campaign. How many for the Bharatiya Janata Party, I asked. [...]

By |2014-11-06T20:56:30+00:00September 28th, 2014|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , |

Politicians and Pluralism


The Telegraph

Indian pluralism was always hard won. The riots during Partition produced an enormous sense of insecurity among India’s minorities. Mahatma Gandhi’s death, by creating a sense of shock and outrage, allowed Jawaharlal Nehru’s Government to isolate extremist Hindus, and bring the mainstream towards a more moderate, inclusive, plural sense of what it meant to be Indian. [...]

By |2013-09-20T09:41:15+00:00September 7th, 2013|Categories: History, Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , |

The Poison of Partisanship


The Telegraph

Earlier this year, I was discussing partisanship in Indian politics with a friend from Bangalore temporarily based in Boston. In no other democracy, I suggested, did the two major parties use such vile language about one another. When the Government of India chose to allow foreign direct investment in the retail sector, the Chief Minister of [...]

By |2013-07-08T12:37:35+00:00June 29th, 2013|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , |

The Continuing Tragedy of the Adivasis


The Hindu

In the summer of 2006, I had a long conversation with Mahendra Karma, the Chhattisgarh Congress leader who was killed in a terror attack by the Naxalites last week. I was not alone—with me were five other members of a citizens’ group studying the tragic fallout of the civil war in the state’s Dantewada district. This [...]

By |2013-06-17T22:45:32+00:00May 27th, 2013|Categories: Politics and Current Affairs|Tags: , , , , |

The Man Who Would Rule India


The Hindu

A journalist who recently interviewed Narendra Modi reported their conversation as follows: ‘Gujarat, he told me, merely has a seafront. It has no raw materials—no iron ore for steel, no coal for power and no diamond mines. Yet it has made huge strides in these fields. Imagine, he added, if we had the natural resources of [...]

Appreciating Nehru


The Hindu

The most admired human being on the planet may be a one-time boxer named Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. To spend three decades in prison fighting racial oppression, and then guide and oversee the peaceful transition to a multi-racial democracy, surely ranks as the greatest personal achievement since the end of the Second World War. For the capaciousness [...]

Indians Great Greater Greatest?


The Hindu

I... Nations need heroes, but the construction of a national pantheon is rarely straightforward or uncontested. Consider the debate in the United States about which faces should adorn the national currency. The founding figures of American Independence—Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, Madison, and Franklin—are all represented on the dollar bill, albeit on different denominations. So are the 19th [...]

The Greatest Living Gandhian


The Telegraph

When Dr Manmohan Singh went to call on Aung San Suu Kyi earlier this week, I wonder whether the great Burmese lady recalled her first encounter with India and Indians. In the 1950s, as a young teenager, she moved to Delhi with her mother, who had been appointed Burma’s Ambassador to India. The years she spent [...]

Varieties of Censorship


The Telegraph

In about the year 1985, I was having dinner with two friends in Chungwa Restaurant, off Chittaranjan Avenue in central Kolkata. We had been undergraduates together in Delhi in the 1970s; now, a decade later, we were in our first jobs, I as an academic, the other two as journalists. We spoke, among other things, of [...]

States of the Nation


The Telegraph

General Elections are all-India affairs, with citizens in twenty-eight states taking part to elect a new Parliament. On the other hand, elections to Legislative Assemblies have a particular resonance for the citizens of the state, or states, going to the polls. Some state elections, however, are of national significance. The first such was the Kerala elections [...]